Doggy detectives: Meet the St. John's women working behind the scenes to locate lost dogs

From left to right: Kristen Ryan, Jackie Mac, Gabrielle Green and Kaitlin Farrell are a team of women dedicated to tracking down lost dogs in St. John's. (Submitted by Gabrielle Green - image credit)
From left to right: Kristen Ryan, Jackie Mac, Gabrielle Green and Kaitlin Farrell are a team of women dedicated to tracking down lost dogs in St. John's. (Submitted by Gabrielle Green - image credit)
Submitted by Gabrielle Green
Submitted by Gabrielle Green

If you've seen a search for a missing dog on Facebook over the past year, there's a good chance that the same three women are working behind the scenes to make sure the pet comes home.

Now they're sharing their tips for anyone trying to find a lost pet.

Gabrielle Green, Kaitlin Farrell and Kristen Ryan have known each other for only a year, but have devoted that time to finding lost dogs. The trio met during the search for a missing Labrador husky, Mealy, last year, and have helped in more than 20 searches ever since.

"When we got Mealy the first time, we were just hooked," Green said Tuesday. "Like the feeling was, you can't even describe how nice it is to find these dogs and to reunite them."

Their latest effort was being involved in the search for Finn, a lost beagle who was found after seven days in Bowring Park in St. John's, with his owner Krissy Rendell.

The trio of women doesn't get involved in searches right away, but Ryan says they're known to exhaust every resource once they start searching — often going to great lengths to aid in reuniting pets with their owners.

"[We've] stayed up for almost 24 hours looking for these dogs," Ryan said.

"Hot days, hiking 24 kilometres some days. Some days we're just literally laughing because we're so overtired in trying to find these dogs. We've knocked on door to door. We've gone out of our way fully to help find these dogs."

They credit the skills they've picked up to Jackie Mac, a pet-finding veteran the group refers to as their "boss."

Other times, Green said, their role can involve being emotional support for owners and families who are missing their pets.

"We all have dogs ourselves," she said. "We would hope that, you know if, god forbid, something happened to one of ours, there would be someone out there that does care as much as we do."

What not to do

Ryan says the trio have learned a lot about what it takes to reunite dogs with their owners in the last year — both what to do and what not to do.

While social media is a powerful tool in most searches, she says it's important to get in touch with a pet's owner directly if a pet is seen, as opposed to sharing it widely on Facebook.

Submitted by Krissy Rendell
Submitted by Krissy Rendell

"A lot of times when it's posted on Facebook, there's a hundred people going to those sightings and the dog is gone by the time the search team is there to help actually track the dog," Ryan said.

"A lot of social media doesn't understand when we keep deleting postings … and being all secretive and stuff about it. It's mostly just because the main safety of the dog.… [We're trying] to make sure that no one else is going to drive the dog out of the area that we already know the dog is in."

Ryan added one of their first tips is not to shout out for or chase after your dog if they get away from you, saying it doesn't help already overwhelmed dogs in the moment.

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